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Other titles in the Global African Voices series:
Cruel City (Global African Voices)by Mongo Beti
Synopses & Reviews
Under the pseudonym Eza Boto, Mongo Beti wrote Ville cruelle (Cruel City) in 1954 before he came to the world's attention with the publication of Le pauvre Christ de Bomba (The Poor Christ of Bomba). Cruel City tells the story of a young man's attempt to cope with capitalism and the rapid urbanization of his country. Banda, the protagonist, sets off to sell the year's cocoa harvest to earn the bride price for the woman he has chosen to wed. Due to a series of misfortunes, Banda loses both his crop and his bride to be. Making his way to the city, Banda is witness to a changing Africa, and as his journey progresses, the novel mirrors these changes in its style and language. Published here with the author's essay "Romancing Africa," the novel signifies a pivotal moment in African literature, a deliberate challenge to colonialism, and a new kind of African writing.
"A new translation of Beti's 1954 work, this novel chronicles a young African man's coming of age in a country barreling toward capitalism. Banda is young and headstrong, with dreams of making his fortune in the large city of Fort NegrÃ©, Haiti. Before taking this leap though, he is committed to his ailing mother's final wish of seeing her son married off. To marry the one woman his mother doesn't expressly disapprove of, Banda must hand over a princely sum to her father — a dowry that depends on his ability to sell his crop of cacao beans. But after the crop is rejected by white officials in nearby Tanga, Banda, running out of time, must find another way to come up with the money. The latter half of the novel follows Banda's desperate attempts to thrive in an environment over which he has no control. Beti's prose is rendered through Banda's manic consciousness — a stoic yet emotive interior monologue that betrays the conflicted nature of Banda's character and environment. The book includes Beti's essay on Francophile African literature and offers a unique insight into the colonial African experience and its literature. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Previous French edition: Nouvelle aedition. Paris: "Praesence africaine," 1971.
About the Author
Mongo Beti (1932-2001), born in Cameroon, is considered one of the foremost African writers of the independence generation. His novels available in English include King Lazarus, Mission to Kala, and The Poor Christ of Bomba (named one of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century).
Pim Higginson is Associate Professor of French at Bryn Mawr College.
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